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is it really THAT hard to ride year-round?(37 posts)

is it really THAT hard to ride year-round?gtx
Sep 16, 2003 8:55 AM
Honest question for those of you starting to complain that "the riding season is coming to an end." I admit I'm a left coaster, but I did live in Iowa for two years and rode both winters there. Obviously I wasn't out in the middle of snow storms, but when the roads were relatively clear I went out. And this was without a dedicated winter bike or very good winter clothes. In fact, some of my best rides were on clear but cold days where there was snow everyewhere. DUring the worst days or weeks of course I spent a bunch of time on the rollers, but I never got terribly out of shape or spent more than a week or two without going outside to ride. If I knew I was going to end up living there long-term I would have gotten some serious clothes and a better winter bike and it would've been fine. I assume a camelback would've solved my water bottle freezing problem.

And to be honest I've been surprised at how few people ride in the rain in Seattle. Before moving here from California I heard about how people here ride rain or shine but for the most part it's not true. When I go out in the rain, especially on colder days, I see very few people.

So let's hear it. How bad is it really in New Enland, etc.? I know MB1 is out there 365 days a year in DC so I know it's possible. I can see that darkness is probably one of the bigger challenges if you work full time and want to ride during the week, but I can't believe anyone really has to hang up their bike for 3-5 months.
Move to Winnipeg. nmSpunout
Sep 16, 2003 9:05 AM
Or Calgary...gf99
Sep 16, 2003 9:28 AM
How do you like your winter?

Intense - Winnipeg.
Milder but never-ending - Calgary (see link)

Left both behind for the southern US. Ha ha.
I've ridden WPG year round.overtrained
Sep 16, 2003 11:40 AM
You gotta ease into it. Then race icebike in feb.
re: is it really THAT hard to ride year-round?Fatnslow
Sep 16, 2003 9:15 AM
Well Hank, I'm in NC and this is going to be my first winter on the bike, so I'll see how it goes and report back in January.
for some, yes. for others, it's only about pleasureJS Haiku Shop
Sep 16, 2003 9:18 AM
most of our locals quit before it gets cold or dark, and don't start back 'til spring fever hits. in memphis, we can ride year 'round. temps rarely go to or below 0*F, most of winter it's between 15* and 40*F, and we rarely get inclement snow or ice. i have been out riding in snowstorms with no worries, though next time i'll use 'cross tires.

granted, it takes longer to get ready for a cold weather ride, more time and effort to recover clothing and clean up the bike and gear afterward, and many people's schedules don't allow for daytime weekday riding, and they don't care for darkness.

many folks need an excuse to quit riding for 3-5 months. it's not about becoming a better person, more fit, or maintaining cycling "form"; it's not a way of life. cycling for some (most?) is a distraction, at best a fair weather recreation. if it's not fun, why do it?

these same folks will probably never aspire to test their true boundaries on the bike. for many of the same riders, 100 miles is the ultimate accomplishment. perhaps it's not a directly relevant comparison, but it's one that lept to mind.

in the "off season" i'll race cyclocross, run a cross-country series, workout in the gym, maintain long road rides on weekends, short intense bike and run efforts during the week, ride the mountain bike, fixed gear/ss, and get ready for the "season" to start (february).

I find that my fitness stays about the same year 'round, unless i'm doing specific target work over the winter (which i will this year). staying about the same all year means i can work up to two or three periodized peaks, suffer a little after, but ride about the same all year. it also means that folks come out in spring and get dropped, but i get dropped by the same folks about a month before they put their bikes on the garage ceiling for hibernation. then, while they're eating bon bons and watching survivor, i'll be "training".

it does not start to get really warm here until may/june.
cool photogtx
Sep 16, 2003 9:25 AM
I keep thinking I'd like to move to Vermont some day. This site shows how much great equipment you can get to ride in the snow. Sounds like fun!
Hell, I'm worried about the 50 degree lows this weekendDave Hickey
Sep 16, 2003 9:49 AM
I hate cold weather:-) Seriously, It sounds like perfect weather this weekend for the Rock and Roll MS150. I'll see you on Saturday morning.
not if i see you firstJS Haiku Shop
Sep 16, 2003 10:15 AM
what are you riding?

what are you driving?

I assume you're wearing a fedex jersey. that'll sure make you easy to spot. LOL.

weather should be nice for arm warmers & perhaps knee warmers early in the day (days 1 & 2 start 7:30 am). stops are placed every 10-12 miles (ouch), so you really won't need to carry much stuff, though i will carry probably everything conceiveable in my jersey pockets as not to stop too often.

i'll be easy to spot. i'm the one in the long dark trenchcoat with a yellow carnation in the lapel. the code phrase is "forty two". keep it on the down-low. don't forget the secret handshake.

I'll be on a red, and black LOOKDave Hickey
Sep 16, 2003 10:38 AM
I won't be hard to spot. Everything I own is red and black except for the orange and purple FedEx jersey. The fashion police will have a field day with me:-0 I'm driving a white Mistubishi Montero sport Texas plates.
unsure which bike i'm ridingJS Haiku Shop
Sep 16, 2003 10:42 AM
but i'm pretty sure mine will be the only orange honda element (+ roof rack) in the parking lot.

i'll probably bring the stealth bike. the fixie is calling, but i'm not listening.
Any big hills?. I could bring single speed instead? nmDave Hickey
Sep 16, 2003 10:53 AM
re: single speedJS Haiku Shop
Sep 16, 2003 11:05 AM
some rollers in the first part of day 1 and the last part of day 2. last year there was one "big hill", nothing significant, but enough to break up the front pack pretty well. runout to the "big hill" was miles of windswept (headwinds on day 2) fields that gave the legs a little wakeup call before you get to the hills.

wind is another concern. not sure how windy it is at home for you, but the mississippi delta gets a bit blustery.

i'd bring gears unless you're just wanting an arse-kicking. if i go fixie it'll be a day with the scratchy hairshirt, in penitent mode, and will probably be forced to drink massive quantities of frothy ales. then again, i'll be up all saturday night drinking frothy ales anyhow.

i'd not question the hills (we're "lumpy", not flat, not "hilly") so much as the wind in mississippi. bring the gears. if you decide to do it again next year, you'll be able to make an educated decision.
re: single speedDave Hickey
Sep 16, 2003 11:12 AM
I'll bring my geared bike. Winds are terrible Texas but better safe than sorry....
Hey they actually have Fedex jerseys??rubendc19
Sep 16, 2003 11:35 AM
Let me know if they do, I'd like to get one, point me in the right direction
I think you have to ride in the MS150 to get one but..Dave Hickey
Sep 16, 2003 11:46 AM
I'm picking mine up on Friday. I'll ask if they're selling the extras..
"need an excuse", "true boundaries", "off season", etcSteve_0
Sep 16, 2003 10:21 AM
Agree, although I ride my bike year round as transportation, I stop 'training' on the bike come winter. Winter, for me, is for running, X country, hunting, surfing, and (gasp) football.

Summer is for biking, swimming, clamming, and (ick) yardwork.

Things never get stale. Some people test their 'true boundaries' of a single pursuit, while others prefer to test their total bounds.

Nothing worse than monomania, IMO.
congratulations nmJS Haiku Shop
Sep 16, 2003 10:30 AM
thanks. nm.Steve_0
Sep 16, 2003 10:33 AM
it is dark at 430pm! hereandy02
Sep 16, 2003 9:21 AM
last year I spend ~10 hours a week on rollers due to a constant snow/slush on the roads. The few times when the roads were clear I got out and I tried some mountain biking but it was limited. I think it really helped me ride better to have all of that gym time as well as the fact that I do more controled workouts on rollers (no team members to toy with). BUT it is depressing!!! No sun no long evenings to ease stress levels.
If this past winter is any indication............Len J
Sep 16, 2003 9:33 AM
I ride as much in the winter as the summer.

I travel during the week, so my big ride days are Sat & Sun. Normal ride is 3 to 4 hour ride Sat followed by 3 hour ride on sunday. Only time I don't ride is snow/Ice & Heavy rain.

It's all about desire. Riding is my sanity medication. I try to never miss a chance.

Piece of cake. We enjoy riding more in the colder, dark months.MB1
Sep 16, 2003 9:34 AM
All those folks that crowd the MUTs we ride on during the week are gone from November to May. Only the hardcore commuters are still riding when it gets dark and cold. It feels (and likely is) much safer to be riding after Halloween.

Each year that we ride through the winter the easier it gets. My advice, give it a try.
Sep 16, 2003 9:51 AM
the MUTs are great (empty) when the weather gets nasty.
re: is it really THAT hard to ride year-round?toomanybikes
Sep 16, 2003 9:42 AM
It's more a time issue I think.

For us here in BC it already getting to the trainer/roller time as getting dark by the time I get home during the week.

Weekends - the riding is great.

During the winter months I keep riding but you only get to go outside on weekends as it is too dark otherwise.

Monday through Friday you ride the trainer or rollers - possibly weekends too if the weather does not cooperate.

You can keep riding - just harder to do it!
Light is the biggestgildomilo
Sep 16, 2003 9:50 AM
problem I have. I leave for work and it's still dark. I get home just as it's getting dark out. This season I'm getting some decent lights and riding in the winter. I may get some studded tires for my old POS mountain bike and see what I can do with that.
Our club rides year roundbigrider
Sep 16, 2003 9:59 AM
Good lights make a big difference

I don't go out if it is below 35 or 40 degrees, the main reason being my knees start hurting and I get a bronchitis condition if I try to go hard in cold weather.

When it is real cold I head to the woods and mountain biking replaces the road. The trees block the winds and the pace is slower so there is not as much wind chill.

I don't ride as much in the winter because I pursue other hobbies and interests but try to keep my base fitness.
re: is it really THAT hard to ride year-round?boyd2
Sep 16, 2003 10:34 AM
You have to just get over it and ride. It is kind of like riding in the rain. You have to get used to the fact that you are wet and cold and ride. Still in the winter I do not put in as many miles beacuse it is more of a pain and because of the daylight problem. I MTB at night, but do not often road ride at night. This winter I plan to push other sports. I have been weight training a little bit and want to do more. Running is a year round thing for me but in the winter I will push it more (possible 1/2 marathon in December in Jamaica!). I also plan to swim alot more this winter. Since I lost my bike commutte (company moved) I have been swimming in the mornings at the YMCA and I am enjoying it.
Were you the guy with the Ski rack on your bike?bimini
Sep 16, 2003 10:44 AM
I live and ride in Iowa all year long also.

I do stay off the roads after big snow falls and go XC sking instead.

I get up bright and early and head for the trails after a good snow. Several times last year while I was driving to the trails I saw a guy riding through the slush and ice at the side of the road on a cyclocross bike. He had a ski rack mounted to the rear of his bike and a pair of 7 foot skis point up in the air behind him.

I ran into him on the trails once. He rides 15 miles through the slush and snow to the trails. XC skis about 15 miles and then rides 15 miles trough the slush and snow back home. Talk about Hardcore.

Now where do you go and find a ski rack for your bike, ebay?
Winter=fixed gearBikinCO
Sep 16, 2003 10:55 AM
In the winter I ride most of my rides on my Steamroller, the rest of the rides are on my Cyclops trainer. My job does not require a lot of hours during the winter so I can get out before dark.
Proper gear makes it easier...biknben
Sep 16, 2003 11:08 AM
I used to turn into a weekend worrior in the winter. This past year I bike commuted through a nasty NE winter. I built up a fixed gear and got some real cold weather clothes. I already had lights. My coldest morning commute was 9 degrees F.

I'll be more prepared this year. I now have a FG cross bike with fenders and more tire clearance. I'll have a backup set of wheels with studded tires for those icy/chance of snow days. My only remaining issues are keeping fingers and toes warm. Hopefully the winter will be a little milder this year.

I only used the trainer twice. After 2 times, I realized I prefered the cold outside and never looked back.
fingers and toesJS Haiku Shop
Sep 16, 2003 11:19 AM
last winter only show stopper for me was fingers and toes. i learned on illinois rides in late winter/early spring that if the trunk is warm and the limbs are insulated, my fingers and toes will stay warm regardless of thick, waterproof gloves and booties, or otherwise. a wicking layer to ankle and wrist, then an insulating layer on top (thin wool merino wool turtleneck), then a barrier layer on the outside top & bottom, and i was good to ride all day in the wind and snow/ice/hail/sleet/slush/rain. keeping the head warm is very important in this equation. helmet cover = priceless. revelation!
To answer your question: NO, but...MShaw
Sep 16, 2003 12:24 PM
like others here have said, it ain't as easy as riding in the summer either.

I used to live in the DC area, before that I was at VA Tech for lotsa years. Yes, I spent lots of time on a trainer, but I really never stopped riding. Cut down lots riding outside on the road, but traded off for mtn biking, running, etc.

Jan/Feb rolled around and if ya wanna be fit in the spring, ya gotta ride! I'd be out with the guys on 20-30 degree days with snot running down my face.

The coldest I've ever ridden was 20below with the wind chill. I had a cold and couldn't breathe, so I went out easy to clear my head. Worked! at least till I got back in the house, and I stopped back up again.

I have a friend in the DC area that makes an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix to visit family. Every Feb he's out riding in the desert, taking a break from the ice and rain of the East Coast. I was always jealous, then I moved to San Diego! Hah! 70 and sunny year round is way hard to beat!

The key to maintaining motivation is to know that there are buddies out there waiting on your sorry arse. Misery loves company... Same applies to trainer workouts. The more the merrier, and you'll be more inclined to do them.

Lights: Night riding in the winter is almost mandatory if you're working in the daytime. Get some good lights! I have friends with HID Niteriders. Mmmmm, bright! I was running a battery that died the other night, rode between two of the HIDs and could see about as well as if I'd had my light on. If you ride in the woods, invest in a helmet mounted light in addition to the bar mount. Trust me on this one, its nice to be able to see around corners.

Now that I live in San Diego, I can wait till 0900 when it warms up, and ride year round in knee warmers, arm warmers, and maybe two layers. Before 0900 or after dark is slightly different, but not nearly as bad as I was used to.

The thing around here is that lots of guys maintain a high level of fitness, and burn out in June. In fact, I did about the same thing this year. I still have part of my "screw-its" disease. The expanding waistline, and slowing down when I am riding is convincing me to get back on it here real soon...

re: is it really THAT hard to ride year-round?7eap4a
Sep 16, 2003 12:26 PM
I live in central NY. The biggest problem is the condition of the roads. Lots of snow means lots of salt which is hell on a drivetrain. If the roads are wet I skip the ride - too much work to get all that salt off. Dry roads I'll go, but from the time they first put down salt till a few good spring rains, I use a old C'dale hybrid. Short daylight keeps me on a trainer most evenings. (Thank God for Seinfeld repeats!) In CNY we know the season is brief so we play hard & train hard to be ready.
SoCal is in the southern hemisphere, cycling season is inversedPeterRider
Sep 16, 2003 1:35 PM
here it's hard to ride in the summer...

Below: a picture taken on a self-supported century in the San Gabriel mtns in July. Yes, it was 105 dgrees... in the shade.

SoCal is in the southern hemisphere, cycling season is inversedMShaw
Sep 16, 2003 5:52 PM
I think it was actually hotter a few days last winter than it ever got here this summer.

There were a few Santa Anas that blew in and raised the temps into the 90s/100s here in Oceanside!

Then there were a few weird days in Jan that the mid-Atlantic was actually warmer than here...

re: is it really THAT hard to ride year-round?Solky
Sep 16, 2003 6:50 PM
Not if you live in South Florida. I ride literally every week of the year. Morning rides beat the heat in the Summer. On the coldest mornings in the dead of winter, it may dip into the 50's. On a couple of winter mornings each year, I actually have to wear a wind top and tights.

But...some people ask if I miss the seasons. Hah!
I ride through the winter...DINOSAUR
Sep 17, 2003 8:35 AM
Winters here in the NorCal foothills bring heavy rain. The rain is not so much a problem, it's the road debris and tree limbs (and trees) that come down with the big storms. Needless to say the nitwit drivers that don't slow down for anything or anybody. I don't mind getting wet as long as my feet stay dry. It does not get that cold here. I think the coldest I have seen while on my bike was 37o, which is probably balmy compared to other places. Average riding temps when I go out in late morning is around 50-53 degrees during the months of Jan/Feb. Flats are more a problem as the rain washes all the debris out onto the road and when tires are wet stuff sticks to them.

Time is not a factor for me as I'm retired and I can ride between the storms. I might only be able to get a couple of rides in a week. Sometimes I will be sitting here at my computer and it will be raining and I will look outside and see sunshine and it it looks like it will clear up I will jump on my bike and go for a ride.

I have a "rain" bike, it's my old Klein QR. It does well in the rain and it's easy to clean up because of the oversized al tubing. The Rolf wheels are bothersome as I have to pull off the tires and let the water drain out, but that's only if I encounter heavy rain.

This winter I'm determined to cross train with my Concept rowing machine and work on my upper body strength and vo2 max, which both need help. I'm also thinking about lifting weights again as I have two sets of 300 pound olympic weights in my garage.

I get some of my best rides in during the winter as it's nice to get out of the house after not riding for a couple of days. Last Jan we saw some 90o temps, which was a fluke, but we paid for it later on as we got Jan type weather almost through the month of May (3 times the normal rainfall).